Ashton Sanders on ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody,’ playing Bobby Brown and more

The highly anticipated Whitney Houston biopic opens Friday in U.S. theaters.

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“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is right around the corner! The highly anticipated Whitney Houston biopic hits movie theaters Friday. Starring Naomi Ackie as “The Voice,” the film chronicles Houston’s entire prolific career, from Clive Davis’ discovering her to the heights of her fame in the early 1990s.

The film also depicts her marriage to Bobby Brown, a role that went to Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight,” “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”). TheGrio caught up with the actor who broke down his role, working with Ackie and director Kasi Lemmons and more.

"Whitney Houston: I Want To Dance With Somebody" World Premiere
Ashton Sanders attends the “Whitney Houston: I Want To Dance With Somebody” world premiere on Dec. 13, 2022, at AMC Lincoln Square Theater in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Like many of Houston’s millions of fans, Sanders listened to her music at home and on the radio. “I was born in ’95, so I grew up with parents listening to her with her music playing on the radio,” he explained.

Still, there was plenty about her life that he did not know until he became involved in the film. “I learned a lot about her, even songs that were huge that I didn’t realize she picked … my relationship to her that I had was small, but nonetheless you grow up with so much respect for these icons.”

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” reexamines Houston’s life through a specific lens, not just her highly publicized personal troubles and turmoil. In fact, it showcases a three-dimensional look at a life lived. “I think that this movie does a really good job at showcasing all of the moments … I would hope that life isn’t just one way for anybody. She had kind of a rollercoaster of a life and I think we did a great job of showcasing all of those parts, including the ups and the downs that were so hard to watch,” Sanders said.

The film also takes its time showcasing the love between Brown and Houston, a relationship that the media often covered negatively — oftentimes through tropes and stereotypes. Lemmons, Sanders and Ackie worked hard to, “stay away from harmful tropes and depictions,” of the couple, Sanders revealed, adding that they wanted to “tell the truth” of their love story.

Being associated with such a highly anticipated film, he is trying to stay present and lean into his experiences so far, Sanders told theGrio. “I’m trying to stay in the moment and soak this all in and not think too much about what’s ahead of me,” he said. “I’m focusing on what’s right in front of me.”

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” opens Friday in U.S. theaters.

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